Founded in 1962 in Japan by Tsutomu Katoh and Tadashi Osanai, Korg was originally known as Keio Gijutsu Kenkyujo Ltd. and later Keio Electronic Laboratories (京王技術研究所?) because its fledgling offices were located near the Keio train line in Tokyo and Keio can be formed by combining the first letters of Katoh and Osanai. Before founding the company, Katoh ran a nightclub. Osanai, a Tokyo University graduate and noted accordionist, regularly performed at Katoh's club accompanied by a Wurlitzer Sideman rhythm machine. Unsatisfied with the rhythm machine, Osanai convinced Katoh to finance his efforts to build a better one.
Korg is credited with a number of innovations and landmark products. The "key transpose" function was Katoh's idea after a singer at his club needed her accompaniment played in a lower key, which the accompanist wasn't accomplished enough to do. Korg was the first company to feature effects on a synthesizer, and the first to use a "sample + synthesis" sound design. The M1 workstation, released in 1988, sold over 250,000 units, making it the bestselling synthesizer ever at that time.
Korg has since diversified into digital effects, tuners, recording equipment, electronic hand percussion, and software instruments.